Andrew Hamm: the Bipolar Express

Ruminations on theatre, music, and just about anything else that crosses my bipolar brain.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

New Youk Blog!

Kevin Youkilis has a new blog,

First sentence: "Maybe we can finally put all of this 'Kevin Youkilis can’t run' stuff to rest now." Behold the accompanying picture of Youk entering the dugout after last night's inside-the-park home run:

I love putting pictures of Youk being awesome on this blog. I am very hopeful that his blog will become an excellent source of further awesome pictures. The Sox have won five straight, the Yankees are still tied with the D-Rays in the basement, and I'm feelin' fine.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cindy Sheehan Resigns

From CNN's coverage:

Anti-War Mom Cindy Sheehan Gives Up Her Protest

(CNN) -- Cindy Sheehan, the California mother who became an anti-war leader after her son was killed in Iraq, declared Monday she was walking away from the peace movement.
She said her son died "for nothing."

Sheehan achieved national attention when she camped outside President Bush's home in Crawford, Texas, throughout August 2005 to demand a meeting with the president over her son's death.

While Bush ignored her, the vigil made her one of the most prominent figures among opponents of the war.

But in a Web diary posted to the liberal online community Daily Kos on Monday, Sheehan said she was exhausted by the personal, financial and emotional toll of the past two years.
She wrote that she is disillusioned by the failure of Democratic politicians to bring the unpopular war to an end and tired of a peace movement she said "often puts personal egos above peace and human life."

Casey Sheehan, a 24-year-old Army specialist, was killed in an April 2004 battle in Baghdad. His death prompted his mother to found Gold Star Families for Peace.

But in Monday's 1,200-word letter, titled, "Good Riddance Attention Whore," Sheehan announced that her son "did indeed die for nothing."

"I have tried ever since he died to make his sacrifice meaningful," she wrote. "Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives.

"It is so painful to me to know that I bought into this system for so many years, and Casey paid the price for that allegiance. I failed my boy and that hurts the most."

Cindy Sheehan's sister, DeDe Miller, told CNN that the group would continue working for humanitarian causes, but drop its involvement in the anti-war movement. As for her sister's letter, Miller said, "She cried for quite a bit after writing it."

Sheehan warned that the United States was becoming "a fascist corporate wasteland," and that onetime allies among Bush's Democratic opposition turned on her when she began trying to hold them accountable for bringing the 4-year-old war to a close.

In the meantime, she said her antiwar activism had cost her her marriage, that she had put the survivor's benefits paid for her son's death and all her speaking and book fees into the cause and that she now owed extensive medical bills.

"I am going to take whatever I have left and go home," she wrote. "I am going to go home and be a mother to my surviving children and try to regain some of what I have lost.

"I will try to maintain and nurture some very positive relationships that I have found in the journey that I was forced into when Casey died and try to repair some of the ones that have fallen apart since I began this single-minded crusade to try and change a paradigm that is now, I am afraid, carved in immovable, unbendable and rigidly mendacious marble."

The full transcript of Sheehan's letter can be found here.

It is not at all surprising that CNN, pawn of the Democratic party that it is, would make the smallest possible reference to this section of her letter, near the top:

...I was the darling of the so-called left as long as I limited my protests to George Bush and the Republican Party. Of course, I was slandered and libeled by the right as a "tool" of the Democratic Party. This label was to marginalize me and my message. How could a woman have an original thought, or be working outside of our "two-party" system?

However, when I started to hold the Democratic Party to the same standards that I held the Republican Party, support for my cause started to erode and the "left" started labeling me with the same slurs that the right used. I guess no one paid attention to me when I said that the issue of peace and people dying for no reason is not a matter of "right or left", but "right and wrong."

I am deemed a radical because I believe that partisan politics should be left to the wayside when hundreds of thousands of people are dying for a war based on lies that is supported by Democrats and Republican alike. It amazes me that people who are sharp on the issues and can zero in like a laser beam on lies, misrepresentations, and political expediency when it comes to one party refuse to recognize it in their own party. Blind party loyalty is dangerous whatever side it occurs on. People of the world look on us Americans as jokes because we allow our political leaders so much murderous latitude and if we don’t find alternatives to this corrupt "two" party system our Representative Republic will die and be replaced with what we are rapidly descending into with nary a check or balance: a fascist corporate wasteland. I am demonized because I don’t see party affiliation or nationality when I look at a person, I see that person’s heart. If someone looks, dresses, acts, talks and votes like a Republican, then why do they deserve support just because he/she calls him/herself a Democrat?

No matter how much I may have disagreed with Ms. Sheehan's stance, I could never find it in my heart to have any kind of rancor for her. A grieving mother will naturally and properly rail against that which killed her son, and a passionate one will move mountains to change it. I feel sad for her, and fervently admire her steadfastness in the face of a political system that has long since (and unfortunately) outgrown grassroots movements such as hers.

Now Cindy Sheehan know what many of us have known all along: that she was a tool of the Democratic party, though not at all by her own doing. As soon as she became politically inconvenient, they were quick to remove her from the spotlight as quietly as possible.

It is appropriate that her letter was entitled "Good Riddance Attention Whore." Cindy Sheehan just found the cabfare the Democratic party left on the dresser two years ago.

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ESPN's Eric Adelson on Rooting for Barry Bonds

An intriguing artice on's Page 2 by Eric Adelson called "A Fistful of Reasons to Root for Bonds." Take a couple minutes to read it. An excerpt:

I want Barry Bonds to break the home run record.

I want Bonds to break the record because Jason Giambi gets paid $120 million to be a home run hitter, won Comeback Player of the Year after apologizing for something or other, said steroids didn't really help him, promised to discuss the topic in full "one day," and yet receives nothing at all like the venom flung at Bonds.

I want Bonds to break the record because Kenny Rogers had a strange substance on his hand during the World Series, and he was not disciplined, nor was he even chastised. Rogers allegedly did something to gain an advantage, even though it was illegal, and in his case, well, that's baseball.

I want Bonds to break the record because as a member of the media, if I want to ask him a question, I know where to find him. He will probably not answer my question, but at least I can ask. Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Jason Grimsley aren't exactly making themselves available to the media these days. Barry Bonds comes out every day and goes to the ballpark, where millions can see him. When the world thinks of steroids, they think of "Barroid," even though he is only one of many suspected of using them.

I want Bonds to break the record because he came closer to telling the truth than Palmeiro or McGwire or Sammy Sosa. He does not smile for the cameras now, only to cower later. With Bonds, what you see is pretty much what you get.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Red Sox Sweep Rangers, Angels Sweep Yankees

...and the effect is the same as the Red Sox sweeping the Yankees.

Yes, my brothers and sisters, the Red Sox have opened up an 11.5-game lead on the second-place...Orioles. Yes, the second-place Orioles. Boston has a 12-game lead over the third-place Blue Jays. To find the Yankees, you have to go another half-game back to fourth place, where Torre's team is bringing new meaning to the name "Bronx Bombers." At 21-27, they are only a game ahead of the last-place Devil Rays. I could buy that in the first week of April, but not the last week in May.

Gloating a little? Why yes, I believe I'll have some of that. The last time the Yankees were 12.5 games out was in 1995. Ouch. And with Roger Clemens, the fastball messiah, struggling in AA last week, it doesn't look good for the Bronx Bomb.

Ha. Ha, ha-ha, ha-ha, ha-ha, ha-ha. Ha.

In fact, if I may comment on the league in general, the weekend's theme was road sweeps. Check it out:
  • The Rockies swept the Giants in San Francisco for the first time ever.
  • The Red Sox swept the Rangers in Texas for the first time since 1973.
  • The Phillies swept the Braves in Atlanta for the first time since 1995.
  • The Angels swept the Bronx Bomb in New York for the first time since 2004.
  • The Mets swept the Marlins in Miami for the first time since 2005.
  • The Mariners swept the Royals in Kansas City for the first time since 2005.
  • The Indians swept the Tigers in Detroit for the first time since 2005.
And Pittsburgh won three this weekend at Cincinnati, with a chance to complete the four-game sweep today. Wow, the Reds suck.

Ichiro and Kevin Youkilis are on big-time hitting tears. Philadelphia's Ryan Howard announced his return from the DL with 2 home runs on Sunday afternoon. And that AL Central is looking as strong as the NL Central is weak. The Astros have lost eight straight, joining the Reds as one of the few teams who might envy the Bomb right now.

Indians at Red Sox, starting tonight, looks like a key series for Cleveland to make a real statement. Cleveland has opened a 2.5-game lead on Detroit, but that division is going to be tight all year.

It's baseball, and it's a long season, and anything can happen. But one of the great things about being a post-2004 Red Sox fan is that you can now enjoy the little things (like a 12.5-game lead over the Bronx Bomb in May) without feeling like you're inviting disaster.

Ha, ha-ha, ha-ha.

David Ortiz rules.

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Pellot-Rosa Showing NFL-Quality Abilities! least he's showing NFL-quality ability to spout cliches.

"I've got one foot in the door right now, but I've just got to keep working hard," he told editor Randy Lange at the Jets-Giants rookie bowling event this week. "I can't get satisfied. There's a long road ahead. I just have to stay focused."

Nice. Now that's the way to get the other foot in the door; talk like a big-time pro athlete. Give 110% even though that's mathematically impossible. Take it one day at a time, just like every human being in history.

Jesse has a player profile on the Jets' website now. It's bare bones, but the picture is nice!

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Friday, May 25, 2007

How Far We've (Not) Come

From the Chicago Tribune, an article by Kayce T. Ataiyero entitled "Blacks Debate Impact of Obama's Race on Campaign."

At lunch counters and cocktail parties, in living rooms and grocery lines, black America is having its own private conversation about Obama's candidacy that is less about the man and more about the racial reality he seems to belie.

At the core of that dialogue is the struggle to reconcile the face of America in the crowd at an Obama rally with the everyday America that still struggles with racial segregation, discrimination and bigotry. It's about understanding how the same culture that gave rise to Don Imus can make Obama a political rock star. It's even about fears that Obama could be assassinated.

The basic question is whether society has made enough progress on race to elect a black person to lead it. In a country where a black man still can have a hard time catching a cab, can he be president of the United States?

Opinions within the black community are mixed. In some circles there is a reluctance to believe that white people will vote for Obama. While some blacks question whether he is black enough, others think that in the end he will prove to be, in effect, too black. They say they are resigned to the notion that he is doomed, not by black ambivalence but by white prejudice.

Quite a contrast with the David Ehrenstein's infamous LA Times piece from March, "Obama the 'Magic Negro'."

...It's clear that Obama also is running for an equally important unelected office, in the province of the popular imagination — the "Magic Negro."

The Magic Negro is a figure of postmodern folk culture, coined by snarky 20th century sociologists, to explain a cultural figure who emerged in the wake of Brown vs. Board of Education. "He has no past, he simply appears one day to help the white protagonist," reads the description on Wikipedia .

He's there to assuage white "guilt" (i.e., the minimal discomfort they feel) over the role of slavery and racial segregation in American history, while replacing stereotypes of a dangerous, highly sexualized black man with a benign figure for whom interracial sexual congress holds no interest.

It's unbelievably frustrating when even liberals and likely Democratic voters can't get past the man's race to discuss issues. It seems like every conversation about Obama's candidacy, and as an extension his value to society as a human being, has to begin with race, end with race, and remind you in the middle of race. His race, whether he should be considered "black" or "mixed," what whites think of his race, what blacks think of his race, what hispanics think of his race, speculation about whites who think he's too black, quotes from blacks who think he's too white, and on and on.

Here's a challenge, blog-readers: Without using a search engine or newspaper, name three things in Barack Obama's platform. "Clean," "bright," and "artictulate" don't count.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Memorial Day Sale at Velocity Comics!

Re-posted from Velocity Comics' email nesletter. Sounds like Monday is a great day to buy comics! I'm gonna dig me out a bunch of old Iron Man back issues!

Keep some time open on Memorial Day (Monday 5/28), we're having a big blowout sale! Opening at 10AM, closing early at 4PM, here's what's going on:

10AM-12Noon: Early bird blowout! All items off the rack a whopping 30% off! (items on hold retain price)

12Noon-2PM: Great savings persist! 20% off all rack items!

2PM-4PM: There's still time! 10% off all rack items.

ALL DAY LONG: All back issues in the boxes $1.00 each! *Pricier books (less than $25.00) will follow the hour-to-hour savings! *All discounted manga in back section knocked down to $1.00 per book! *Probably more sale stuff will pop up!

Please repost this if you're inclined, we're trying to get the word out!



Velocity Comics


"No Blood for Oil" Examined

Warning: extremely boring content.

Any time we debate the Iraq war, and the U.S. presence in the Middle East in general, the topic of soldiers "dying for oil" always comes up. The argument is that oil is not a resource worth fighting wars over, that innocent Arabs and young, promising American soldiers should not have their blood spilled for oil.

First of all, I want to be very clear about this: There is no resource, conflict, or issue that justifies starting a war. Initiating violence to gain control of a resource, whether it be actual or intellectual, is never appropriate. However, fighting for purposes of defense, reasonable pre-emption, or to enforce international law is a different matter. I believe we are pursuing all three of those objectives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rather than defend that idea in this column, I would refer you to articles by much better writers than myself: Senator Joe Lieberman, Bob Kerrey, and Orson Scott Card.

But I want to look at the "no blood for oil" argument here. I should say straight out that this appeal has never really resonated with me. It strikes me as an emotional argument rather than a rational one, and while I appreciate the value of taking an emotional, intuitive, or moral stance on a logical issue (I do, after all, believe God became man, died for the sins of all humankind, and rose from the dead), I refuse to discount reason entirely. It's a fallacy that numbers don't lie, but they are often very illustrative.

So let’s look at some numbers from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Top World Oil Net Exporters, 2006

Country / Net Oil Exports (million barrels per day)
1) Saudi Arabia: 8.7
2) Russia: 6.6
3) Norway: 2.5
4) Iran: 2.5
5) United Arab Emirates: 2.5
6) Venezuela: 2.2
7) Kuwait: 2.1
8) Nigeria: 2.1
9) Algeria: 1.8
10) Mexico: 1.7
11) Libya: 1.5
12) Iraq: 1.4
13) Angola: 1.4
14) Kazakhstan: 1.1
15) Canada: 1.1

Table includes all countries with net exports exceeding 1 million barrels per day in 2006.

So we can see that Iraq is the 12th-largest oil exporter in the world. Pretty impressive. There's a lot of money to be made with that oil on the international market. But let's look at total production:

Top World Oil Producers, 2006

Country / Total Oil Production (million barrels per day)
1) Saudi Arabia: 10.7
2) Russia: 9.7
3) United States: 8.4
4) Iran: 4.1
5) China: 3.8
6) Mexico: 3.7
7) Canada: 3.3
8) United Arab Emirates: 2.9
9) Venezuela: 2.8
10) Norway: 2.8
11) Kuwait: 2.7
12) Nigeria: 2.4

13) Brazil: 2.2
14) Algeria: 2.1
15) Iraq: 2.0

Table includes all countries total oil production exceeding 2 million barrels per day in 2006.

Total Oil Production includes crude oil, natural gas liquids, condensate, refinery gain, and other liquids.

When it comes to total production, Iraq falls a bit, down to 15th place. So they're holding onto 30% of their oil for domestic usage. Compare that to the United States, which exports virtually no oil whatsoever. Greedy Republican bastards!

For the last table, I regret that I only have 2005 data. I am going to assume that 2005 and 2006 will be similar enough for purposes of comparison. Obviously, I'm nothing resembling a scientist or statistician; I have two degrees in Theatre for Pete's sake.

This time, we'll look at U.S. imports only.

Top U.S. Oil Imports by Country of Origin , 2005

Country / Total Oil Imports (million barrels per day)

1) Canada: 2.181
2) Mexico: 1.662
3) Saudi Arabia: 1.537
4) Venezuela: 1.529
5) Nigeria: 1.166
6) Iraq: .531
7) Algeria: .478
8) Angola: .473
9) Russia: .410
10) United Kingdom: .396
11) Virgin Islands (U.S.): .328
12) Ecuador: .283
13) Kuwait: .243
14) Norway: .233
15) Colombia: .196

So Iraq, whose oil fields are firmly in the black-gloved fist of the GWBA, is sixth in U.S. oil imports, a very distant sixth behind Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Nigeria. Compared to those top five, Iraq is definitively B-list.

The idea that the U.S. is basking in massive amounts of cheap oil brought to our shores only as a result of toppling Saddam Hussein and killing innocent Iraqis and soldiers is demonstrably nonsense. Iraq is a significant oil supplier to the world and the United States, but they are far from being a giant in the industry, and the United States does not hugely benefit from access to Iraqi oil fields.

If you truly believe we’re in Iraq purely or primarily for control over oil, I have three questions for you:

  1. Why aren't we invading a much easier-to-conquer country with a larger or comparable amount of oil? I'm guessing that Angola, Algeria, and Nigeria would all have been easier to subdue, even accounting for the unexpected sectarian violence. If George Bush can "invent" evidence to invade Iraq (evidence that every single other intelligence agency in the world simultaneously "invented"), he can invent evidence to invade Angola, can't he? Hell, Canada even. What are they going to do, throw back bacon at us?
  2. How much does it cost to fill your gas tank these days, because mine is awfully expensive to satisfy. If we're fighting for cheap oil, I hope President Bush invades Angola really soon. This "Invade Iraq to get cheap oil" plan isn't working at all to my satisfaction.
  3. Where do you suppose President Bush hides his cloven hooves and horns when he appears on TV?

Whoops--look out Iran! The GWBA must be manufacturing all that rhetoric from Ahmedinejad about washing the Earth in nuclear fire to prepare for the return of the Mahdi. It's the only way Bush, Cheney, and Haliburton can get their hands on more oil! Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-haaaaaaa!

Editorial note: I'm sorry, but I just don't believe that assuming the supposedly draconian intentions of President Bush is accurate, intellectually valid, or remotely useful in any kind of discourse. You can't call him a moron one minute and an evil genius the next. You can't call him incompetent on one hand and Machiavellian on the other. Then again, a recent poll showed that 30% of Democrats believe that President Bush was complicit in the September 11 attacks. It's FDR and Pearl Harbor all over again. It's a logical progression, of course: If he stole the 2000 election, he's capable of anything, right? :rolleyes:

But back to the numbers. Overall, in 2005 we imported 13.7 million barrels of oil a day. Only 2.3 million barrels a day came from the Persian Gulf, primarily from Saudi Arabia (not Iraq). Osama bin Laden and most of the 9/11 hijackers come from Saudi Arabia. Numerous members of the Saudi royal family openly support terrorism, far more than Saddam Hussein and the wealthy widow's bounty the Iraqi despot used to pay to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. (I'd love to hear someone explain how that isn't openly supporting terrorism.)

Yet somehow, all the diplomatic language between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia is talk of partnership and friendship. How does this happen despite American distress with theocratic Saudi law that brutally oppresses women and features public dismemberment and beheadings? (Where's the NOW and Amnesty International when you need them?) How does this happen despite the massive number of powerful, wealthy international terrorists claiming Saudi citizenship? How does this "partnership" happen when the imperialist infidels have a blasphemous military presence in the nation of Mecca?

The Saudi version of "no blood for oil" could be "no blood for dollars." In America, we tend to disregard the fact that as the oil comes in, something else goes out: massive amounts of money. According to the EIA, Oil export revenues make up 90-95% of Saudi Arabia's export earnings, 70-80% of state revenues, and a whopping 40% of the country's GDP. Dang. Even for the world's largest oil producer, that is a heavy slant on a single resource, and a non-renewable one at that.

The U.S. is a massive customer. If we were to cease and desist from buying Saudi oil, both countries' economies would obviously take downturns. Saudi Arabia provides around 15% of the United States' imported oil (not oil total; this number does not include the U.S.'s own very large oil production). If we stop buying oil from Saudi Arabia, gas prices will go up, and so will the cost of produce and other things we can't even imagine yet.

But Saudi Arabia's economy would collapse. A major pull-out from the country's only significant industry would be a complete economic and humanitarian disaster.

My point? The Saudis need us as much (or very probably much much more) than we need them. And there are a large large number of demonstrably bad guys in power over there, pumping out an endless stream of young fanatics with blood in their eyes and the deaths of Israel and America in their plans.

So I say, if we're going to be outraged about United States policy in the Persian Gulf, perhaps it would be more appropriate to coin a new protest phrase: No diplomacy for oil.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Jason Whitlock Strikes Again -- x3!

Another great column, "Forum Goes Off Topic," by the Kansas City Star's Jason Whitlock. Whitlock attended the Black Athlete Forum at Morehouse College, an event created by Spike Lee after a lunch table debate with Whitlock on the Imus controversy. I regret that it took me two weeks to post this link and excerpt.

Vivian Stringer was wrong for conducting an hourlong press conference/pity party in reaction to Imus’ comments. Wallowing in victimhood might help an individual get a fat book contract and coaching salary that equals the football coach’s, but it does not elevate anyone else.

After having a rational discussion with her away from the TV cameras Monday night, I believe she thought she was doing the right thing at the time. She thought she could defend her players and promote women’s basketball without putting her kids in harm’s way. Naïve but plausible.

She never envisioned the kids on her team becoming bigger targets of harassment and ridicule on a national level. Well, that predictable, sad reality is beginning to settle in now.

Just last week, popular black comedian DL Hughley appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and completely trashed the Rutgers women’s players. Hughley called them “nappy headed” and “ugly” among other things. “The Tonight Show” has far more reach than Imus’ old radio/TV show. Hughley resonates with black kids far more than Imus.

I pointed all this out at The Forum. I sarcastically asked when we were going to protest DL Hughley. No one said a word.

Whitlock also says in a later column on Barry Bonds:

The reaction to every misdeed doesn’t have to be polarizing, especially not racially polarizing.


In the pursuit of ratings, sometimes it’s in the media’s best interest to keep us divided — as blacks, whites and browns, conservatives, liberals and moderates, Republicans, Democrats and Bill Mahers.

To keep us divided and entertained, things rarely get placed in proper context, issues rarely get examined in proper detail and our leaders are rarely left with an option that truly seeks to improve the situation.

Whitlock for President.

By the way, what happened to Al Sharpton attacking hip-hop artists for their misogynistic content? Where did that story go?

But the wisdom doesn't stop there! Here's an excerpt from May 19th's article, "Some Things Can Be Taught:"

For the last few years, I’ve heard more and more people in the world of sports suggest that colleges (and perhaps even high schools) need to start offering majors/curriculum in sports. If actors can study theater in college, why can’t athletes study sports?

I used to dismiss this notion. Now I understand it.

It’s long been my position that Michael Vick is totally clueless about all the responsibilities that go along with playing quarterback in the NFL. It’s so much deeper than what takes place on the field. Starting quarterback in the NFL is a 365-day-a-year job. It’s the most difficult job in sports. You’re the face of the franchise and a spokesman for the entire city.

A starting QB’s relationship with the head coach, offensive coordinator and owner is often more important than his relationship with his teammates. A college football coach doesn’t have time to prepare his players for what awaits the select few of them who reach the NFL.

This stuff needs to be taught in a classroom. You might think that it’s silly that Vick needs to be schooled not to get involved in illegal activity such as dog fighting. You think that’s common sense. It is. But getting Vick to understand his place in the world based on the job he holds would quite possibility get him to think big picture and realize that all of his decisions — including who he lets live in a home he owns — could potentially have major impact on the franchise that gave him lifetime financial security.

At his salary, football is no longer fun and games. Peyton Manning understands this because he had a father who was a quarterback and trained him to take on all the responsibilities that go along with the position. Most players don’t have a former pro to school them. They need to be educated in their profession in a classroom.

I find this to be a completely fascinating idea. College athletes are no more guaranteed opf professional success than college actors, journalists, dancers, accountants, writers, scientists, law enforcement, lawyers, etc. But the latter group are certainly prepared in a much more comprehensive fashion than athletes. Sports is a profession, so why not a sports major?

I'm willing to bet that a BA in Athletics with an emphasis on Football would encourage a lot more kids to finish their degrees than a degree in "Communications" with extracurricular football activities. Athletics majors would learn their profession's history, they would learn leadership structure, they would learn professional behavior, and they would learn about the pitfalls and dangers of being a well-paid public figure. In essence, four years of college to teach them what the NFL tries to cram into their heads in the one-weekend Rookie Symposium.

Who's more likely to study and learn difficult material: a college student on scholarship with GPA requirements to play, or a newly-minted 22-year-old multimillionaire with reams of evidence that the rules don't apply to him?

Jason Whitlock totally rules.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Whootles

Joey Fanelli have decided that the surviving members of the Who and the Beatles should combine to form a supergroup called the Whootles.

The band would consist of:

Roger Daltrey: Lead Vocals
Paul McCartney: Bass and Vocals
Ringo Starr: Drums
Pete Townshend: Guitar and Vocals

And they would play such songs as:

"Can’t Buy Me a Pinball Wizard"
"Baba O’Rigby"
"My Generation 9"
"There’s a Doctor Robert I’ve Found"
"All You Need Is Love Reign O’er Me"
"Behind Blue Jay Way"
"Magical Mystery Bus"
"Maxwell’s Silver Squeezebox"
"Long Live Rocky Raccoon"
"It’s Hard Day’s Night"
"I Can See Across the Universe"
"Join Together Now"
"Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Wife"
"One After 905"
"The Long and Winding Amazing Journey"
"Boris the Walrus"
"You Never Steal My Money"
"While My Guitar and Pen Gently Weep"
"I’m Free as a Bird"
"Pictures of Lady Madonna"
"Getting Better You Bet"
"Sally Simpson in the Sky with Diamonds"
"Only a Northern Song Is Over"
"Please Mr. Whiskey Man"

...and my personal favorite:

"Won’t Get Fool on the Hill Again"

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Bob Kerrey: The Left's Iraq Muddle

I feel strongly enough about this article, from today's Opinion Journal, to print it in its entirety. Excerpting it just doesn't seem enough.

The Left's Iraq Muddle

Yes, it is central to the fight against Islamic radicalism.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

At this year's graduation celebration at The New School in New York, Iranian lawyer, human-rights activist and Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi delivered our commencement address. This brave woman, who has been imprisoned for her criticism of the Iranian government, had many good and wise things to say to our graduates, which earned their applause.

But one applause line troubled me. Ms. Ebadi said: "Democracy cannot be imposed with military force."

What troubled me about this statement--a commonly heard criticism of U.S. involvement in Iraq--is that those who say such things seem to forget the good U.S. arms have done in imposing democracy on countries like Japan and Germany, or Bosnia more recently.

Let me restate the case for this Iraq war from the U.S. point of view. The U.S. led an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein because Iraq was rightly seen as a threat following Sept. 11, 2001. For two decades we had suffered attacks by radical Islamic groups but were lulled into a false sense of complacency because all previous attacks were "over there." It was our nation and our people who had been identified by Osama bin Laden as the "head of the snake." But suddenly Middle Eastern radicals had demonstrated extraordinary capacity to reach our shores.

As for Saddam, he had refused to comply with numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions outlining specific requirements related to disclosure of his weapons programs. He could have complied with the Security Council resolutions with the greatest of ease. He chose not to because he was stealing and extorting billions of dollars from the U.N. Oil for Food program.

No matter how incompetent the Bush administration and no matter how poorly they chose their words to describe themselves and their political opponents, Iraq was a larger national security risk after Sept. 11 than it was before. And no matter how much we might want to turn the clock back and either avoid the invasion itself or the blunders that followed, we cannot. The war to overthrow Saddam Hussein is over. What remains is a war to overthrow the government of Iraq.

Some who have been critical of this effort from the beginning have consistently based their opposition on their preference for a dictator we can control or contain at a much lower cost. From the start they said the price tag for creating an environment where democracy could take root in Iraq would be high. Those critics can go to sleep at night knowing they were right.

The critics who bother me the most are those who ordinarily would not be on the side of supporting dictatorships, who are arguing today that only military intervention can prevent the genocide of Darfur, or who argued yesterday for military intervention in Bosnia, Somalia and Rwanda to ease the sectarian violence that was tearing those places apart.

Suppose we had not invaded Iraq and Hussein had been overthrown by Shiite and Kurdish insurgents. Suppose al Qaeda then undermined their new democracy and inflamed sectarian tensions to the same level of violence we are seeing today. Wouldn't you expect the same people who are urging a unilateral and immediate withdrawal to be urging military intervention to end this carnage? I would.

American liberals need to face these truths: The demand for self-government was and remains strong in Iraq despite all our mistakes and the violent efforts of al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias to disrupt it. Al Qaeda in particular has targeted for abduction and murder those who are essential to a functioning democracy: school teachers, aid workers, private contractors working to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure, police officers and anyone who cooperates with the Iraqi government. Much of Iraq's middle class has fled the country in fear.

With these facts on the scales, what does your conscience tell you to do? If the answer is nothing, that it is not our responsibility or that this is all about oil, then no wonder today we Democrats are not trusted with the reins of power. American lawmakers who are watching public opinion tell them to move away from Iraq as quickly as possible should remember this: Concessions will not work with either al Qaeda or other foreign fighters who will not rest until they have killed or driven into exile the last remaining Iraqi who favors democracy.

The key question for Congress is whether or not Iraq has become the primary battleground against the same radical Islamists who declared war on the U.S. in the 1990s and who have carried out a series of terrorist operations including 9/11. The answer is emphatically "yes."
This does not mean that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11; he was not. Nor does it mean that the war to overthrow him was justified--though I believe it was. It only means that a unilateral withdrawal from Iraq would hand Osama bin Laden a substantial psychological victory.

Those who argue that radical Islamic terrorism has arrived in Iraq because of the U.S.-led invasion are right. But they are right because radical Islam opposes democracy in Iraq. If our purpose had been to substitute a dictator who was more cooperative and supportive of the West, these groups wouldn't have lasted a week.

Finally, Jim Webb said something during his campaign for the Senate that should be emblazoned on the desks of all 535 members of Congress: You do not have to occupy a country in order to fight the terrorists who are inside it. Upon that truth I believe it is possible to build what doesn't exist today in Washington: a bipartisan strategy to deal with the long-term threat of terrorism.

The American people will need that consensus regardless of when, and under what circumstances, we withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq. We must not allow terrorist sanctuaries to develop any place on earth. Whether these fighters are finding refuge in Syria, Iran, Pakistan or elsewhere, we cannot afford diplomatic or political excuses to prevent us from using military force to eliminate them.

(Mr. Kerrey, a former Democratic senator from Nebraska and member of the 9/11 Commission, is president of The New School.)

Cheers to Kerrey for doing a few things that his one-time colleagues in the Capitol have utterly failed to do:
  1. Divorce his feelings about President Bush from his assessment of the issue.
  2. Actually pay the tiniest bit of attention to military history.
  3. Take our enemies at their word when they say they plan to destroy us.
  4. Place national security above partisan politics.
  5. Dare to reason independently of his party line.

With wiser heads in Washington backing off from the Iraq Surrender Funding Bill and rising up to reconsider the Bipartisan Back-Room Amnesty Agreement, I'm actually feeling a little bit of hope after several weeks of absolute bleakness.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Pellot-Rosa Already Competitive With Jets!

Okay, so it's at bowling, but still! Jesse played in this week's annual charity bowling tourtament between the Jets and Giants rookies. An excerpt from Randy Lange's article:

It's a different kind of grind for Jesse Pellot-Rosa, who used to be a basketball player for Virginia Commonwealth until the Jets brought him in as a WR tryout for their minicamp and liked him enough to sign him up for training camp.

"It's fun and good to take your mind away from your playbook and the workouts," Pellot-Rosa said. "The playbook — I didn't know it was going to be so big."

For as long as Pellot-Rosa is around, he figures to be a cut-up. Even though he and top draft pick Darrelle Revis were bowling on different lanes, he came by to heckle Revis as he was about to bowl.

The Pitt cornerback showed his trademark concentration as he ignored Pellot-Rosa to roll his third consecutive strike, then the next frame to pick up a 6-10 spare.

Holy Youkilis

Someone said the word "Eucharist" recently and I heard "Youkilis." How hopeless is that?

Let's look at a picture of how awesome Kevin Youkilis is.

11 game lead over the last-place Yankees. All is well in the baseball world.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

"Iron Man" Teaser Poster

Yeah, apparently this is old news, as in July 2006 old, but I didn't find it until yesterday. And I like to share.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

VCU Hoops Star Signs with New York Jets?!

From the AP via the Sporting News:

Jets Sign 5, Including Former VCU Hoops Star

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- The New York Jets signed five free agents Tuesday, including former Virginia Commonwealth basketball star Jesse Pellot-Rosa.

The Jets also signed defensive back James Ihedigbo, cornerback Rayshaun Kizer, linebacker Jared Newberry and wide receiver Renard Stevens. All five players received tryouts at rookie minicamp last weekend.

Pellot-Rosa, who tried out at wide receiver, helped lead the Rams to a Colonial Athletic Association title and a first-round upset of Duke in the NCAA tournament in March. He averaged 13.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and shot over 42 percent from 3-point range last season.

Pellot-Rosa last played organized football in high school. He was recruited by Tennessee, Alabama and Virginia to play football, but chose to play basketball at VCU, which doesn't have a football team.

"I love to play football just like I love to play basketball," Pellot-Rosa said during minicamp. "They are equal to me. I love to play both, and it's been like that since I was a kid -- you go out on the playground and love to play. It didn't really matter whether it was basketball or football. I would play either one."

The Jets also released defensive back Caleb Hendrix, defensive end Matt King, wide receiver Dustin Osborn and LB Mark Zalewski. All four had been signed to free agent contracts before minicamp.

Here's an excerpt from the Jets' website, by Eric Allen:

Burroughs, Pellot-Rosa Pressed Into Duty

...In an adjoining room, Jesse Pellot-Rosa visited his makeshift locker. Pellot-Rosa was a key performer on the Virginia Commonwealth basketball team this season, averaging 13.3 points and 4.5 rebounds an outing. The 6’4”, 195-pounder, who hadn't played organized football since high school, lined up at wide receiver this weekend.

“Camp has been kind of good. It is just a lot of different things and a lot of different adjustments,” he said. “You see how big this playbook is. I just have to get used to the whole NFL game, the different coverages and getting off the line. I have a lot of work to do, man.”

The VCU guard, who totaled 14 points, five rebounds and three assists in the first-round upset of Duke in the NCAA Tournament, made progress on Day Two.

“I am still trying to learn. Coach is really strict on formations and where you line up,” he said. “I think I am getting a little bit better. I know the first day I was lined up all over the place. Today I felt like I was lining up in the right spots so I wasn’t all over the place.”

After the draft, Pellot-Rosa was told he would have the chance to try out for the Jets. He worked out twice prior to this weekend’s activities and still hasn’t donned any heavy football equipment other than a helmet.

“I went up to the University of Richmond for like a day and worked out there,” he said. “I ran some routes and that was basically it. I think I worked out twice — once when a member of the Jets personnel department came down, and I ran some routes at Richmond.”

What if someone had told him during the basketball season that he would be trying out with the New York Jets in May?

“I wouldn’t believe it. I didn’t believe it when the guy called me and told me,” he said. “You have to see it to believe it. I am just glad I got this opportunity.”

When football was aired on television each fall, he used to stare at the screen and daydream of playing once again.

Virginia Commonwealth didn’t have a football team but that didn’t stop him from gaining at least temporary entry in pro football.

“I would say, ‘Man, I could be out there playing with those guys.’ The Jets gave me a shot now and I am going to keep working hard.”

And even if things don’t work out in football, Pellot-Rosa could attempt to play professional basketball. Versatility is always a good thing.

“If all else fails and I don’t make it, then I would have no choice,” he said.

'Tis the season for NFL teams to take a flier on some weird athletes. Pellot-Rosa would be a project, to say the least. But he's a heck of an athlete, and I wouldn't be too surprised to see him on the field in a couple years. For the next year or two, however, the practice squad would be a triumph for him.

I'll try to keep you posted.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Joe Jackson: "Smoke, Lies, and the Nanny State"

A few years ago, songwriter Joe Jackson wrote an essay called "The Smoking Issue" which appeared in the New York Times and the Daily Telegraph. His new piece, "Smoke, Lies, and the Nanny State," comes after four years of research (perhaps explaining why I'm still waiting for a new album) and "replaces" the earlier "Issue."

While I disagree with a large chunk of his central premise, Jackson's perspective is worth spending some time examining. He certainly shares my skepticism with the established power of scientific-intellectual centers:

I believe that we have to put our faith in someone, and that as our faith in political and religious leaders has declined, we have become not only excessively reverent towards doctors and scientists, but increasingly willing to allow them to dictate our lifestyles and laws. Health is seen as an unqualified good. Who can be against "health"? Likewise, "science" is equated with integrity and certainty. It has become our religion.

Unfortunately, there is precious little genuine science to be found in the pronouncements of media pundits and politicians. Instead we’re fed a steady diet of "junk science": facts out of context and out of proportion, insubstantial claims based on dubious methodology, and clever games with statistics. Like the perennial pub bore who holds forth with great authority on any number of topics, the average politician or newspaper editor tends to promote whatever "science" suits his or her prejudice or agenda.

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Iron Man Revealed!

For a few months now, we've known about the ridiculously appropriate casting of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, the Invincible Iron Man. Who else but Downey to play a neurotic, smarmy, sex-addicted, alcoholic, obsessive billionaire genius? Tony Stark is my favorite superhero because he can so easily turn unlikeable, and Downey is the perfect actor for the part.

Now (thanks to Jeff Cole, who sent me the links) we have images of the armor being used in the movie, and it's totally megacool. Check it:

This is the Mark I armor, the first design. In the comics, it was built out of junk and spare parts to keep Tony's injured heart beating and help him escape a Vietnamese military camp. I'm surprised at how faithful this design is to the original comic.

This is the Mark III design, the current model, and the one we should be seeing the most of in the film. It's nearly identical to the suit he's wearing in continuity today.

I am so very pleased.

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